Indie Publishing

Lightbox 2016 March 26 - Indie Publishing 4

Traditional Publishing vs. Indie Publishing

With the advent of the Personal Computer (the PC) came the downfall of the book industry in its original state.

I was a typesetter from the late 60s to the late 80s. The process from an author’s mind to the final product, The Book, was long and involved. The author typed, retyped, used Wite-Out®, scissors and Scotch® tape to produce a physical manuscript. S/He made last-minute hand-written notes in the margins and sent it off to companies like mine.

Using a CompuGraphic phototypesetting machine, people like me typed it. I worked on something like this for the first several years of my typesetting career.

Compugraphic prepress_history_editwriter7500

Things went to hell when the Personal Computer came along and secretaries could produce books for their bosses and have them come out looking like actual books. That was the end of me and my high-level salary. Off I went to the minimum wage level and a job as a receptionist at a busy veterinary clinic.

The Writers’ Uprising

The Personal Computer allowed the writing spirit to rise up in almost every single person on the planet. I’d always been a writer, but working on everybody else’s books had precluded my writing my own. I was stuck with writing articles, poetry and short stories. Who wants to type books all day — non-stop — then come home and type books all night?

Toward the end of my career, when I knew it was sliding into oblivion, I did write a horror novel, a great long beast of a thing, on a typewriter. Every day after work I would write several pages. Writing this beast kept me sane: I killed a grand total of 26 people in it. Violently. And with great pleasure.

Now I write on a computer where I can backspace, delete, cut and paste to my heart’s content. I kill characters off but only when they deserve it and usually by their own hand (karma-wise speaking, that is) — and often with humour (horror-fan humour, that is). I don’t have a gut need to write horror anymore; my life has stabilized, so I have expanded my horizons toward writing historical novels, crime, action/adventure, romance …

So what does all this have to do with Indie Publishing (once shamefully referred to as Vanity Press)? Everybody is writing a book these days. The original old time Traditional Publishers are overwhelmed with books, books, books in as many categories as there are authors.

Categories …

Narrowed fields of interest = fewer sales. Traditional Publishers can’t afford to spend all that time (read, money) working to produce a project like Growing Rutabagas in Rankin Inlet because the return on the investment required will be a negative one financially. TPs can take on only those projects that will appeal to the broadest range of readers (read, buyers). [Note: If Growing Rutabagas in Rankin Inlet were a Harlequin Romance and not a guide to gardening under almost impossible odds, then it might be a money-maker after all.]

As the book industry changed, the PC industry stepped in with all kinds of programs (thank you PC industry!) to help authors produce their own narrow-field-of-interest books.

Don’t ever think that these narrow-field-of-interest books are of no value. They are of great value to their target readership. My next Post will, I hope, give insight into how to produce one all by oneself.


Next Post — Do-It-Yourself Publishing

Sherrill Wark is the author of Really Stupid Writing Mistakes: How to Avoid Them:

… and Death in l’Acadie: a Kesk8a story (fiction):


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